In 2000, Vladimir Putin came to power after nearly a decade of the rule of the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin. As prime minister, and later as a candidate for president, Putin announced that he would reform the state. The main assumptions of this reform were presented during a congress of the pro-Kremlin Unity movement, in Putin's address entitled 'Russia at the turn of the millennium' which was delivered on 29 December 1999, and later in a open letter to voters published on 25 February 2000.
When interpreting the "Yukos affair", it is hard to focus on any single particular motive or explanation that would easily rationalise the government's actions against the company. The "Yukos affair" is a multi-layered process with a number of different reasons for its cause. When one scrutinises the events around the company, the impression may be obtained that the Kremlin seemed at first not to have had any ultimate strategy; the authorities' position evolved as time went by. At first, the conflict was mainly of a political nature; economic factors did not arise until later, when the oil sector was undergoing changes in ownership.
Throughout the history of Russia, periods of deep chaos have been accompanied by demographic crises. This was the case during the Time of Troubles, or Smutnoye Vremya, in the seventeenth century, and during the period of wars and revolutions in the early twentieth century, which brought the Bolsheviks to power
The Southern Caucasus and Central Asia are priority areas for the foreign policy of the Russian Federation. Russia mainly sees its influence in both regions as an important factor determining its international stature, and as a precondition for reinforcing its position as a world power. The Caucasus and Central Asia are also important for Russia from the points of view of economy, especially because of those area's natural resource wealth, and security, as both regions generate serious potential threats to the Russian Federation, including Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, the drugs trade and illegal migration.
Contrary to both parties' declarations on the development of their "strategic partnership", relations between Russia and the European Union have over recent years been in a state which could be called one of crisis. However, this does not mean that there have been no achievements in EU-Russian relations.